grafting the gums

What is “gum grafting”?

Gum grafting is a procedure whereby the lost soft tissues are restored surgically. There are several types of gum grafting procedures that can be performed each suited for a specific circumstance. The most popular and common one is a root coverage procedure and is performed when there is recession of the gums. Soft tissue grafting can also be performed to augment or enhance the health of the gums in certain areas to prevent and reduce further gum recession. It can also be performed around implants for the same purposes or to shape the gums.

What is “Recession of the Gums”?

Gingival (gum) recession is a very common finding and is basically when the gum pulls away from the tooth. It can be caused by previous orthodontic treatment, aggressive tooth brushing and flossing habits, grinding and clenching, malocclusion, traumatic biting forces and periodontal or gum disease. As the root contains the nerves, these teeth tend to be more sensitive than others to hot and cold.

Before and after of a single tooth recession and it's correction using patient's skin as a graft
Before and after of a single tooth recession and it’s correction using patient’s skin as a graft

How is the procedure done?

soft tissue graft procedure

Soft tissue grafting is performed by preparing the recipient site surgically. The graft tissue can be your own or from donor tissue. Your own tissue usually yields the best results. Donor tissue is a safe substitute and generally associated with good results. If donor tissue is being utilized, then the donor tissue is placed and grafted in this site and closed back up. If your own tissue is being used, then a second surgical site (typically the roof of the mouth) is prepared and graft is obtained from this area to be used at the recipient site. Stitches are usually removed 2 weeks after the procedure and typically almost complete healing has occurred in this time frame.

Gum recessions before surgical correction
Gum recessions before surgical correction
Gum recessions after grafting procedure
Gum recessions after grafting procedure

Will it cause discomfort?

During the surgery the area and the tooth/teeth is/are numb from the use of a local anesthetic. We use the local anesthetic to numb the area so you are comfortable throughout the procedure. We also provide relaxation/sedation, available on request – just let us know before we schedule your appointment. After the numbness wears off, for most people there will be only minor swelling & tenderness. For some people it may be a bigger swelling. If a tissue graft was performed, then you can expect moderate amount of pain on the roof of mouth that will last for a couple of weeks. Using a donor tissue is the most comfortable but has the least predicable results.

Should I take pain medication?

It is very important that you take all your prescribed antibiotics (if any), mouth rinses and pain medication as prescribed to help rid the area of infection and post operative discomfort. As with all antibiotics, FINISH the prescription as directed even if the area feels fine. If the antibiotics give you diarrhea, difficult breathing or make your skin break out, you may be allergic to that particular antibiotic; stop taking them and call our office IMMEDIATELY and we will change the prescription for you. If you develop a severe reaction to any medicine you must seek emergency medical care. The mouth rinse prescribed may cause staining of the teeth which should get removed at your next hygiene visit.

Do gum grafts always work?

Although there is no method that will accurately predict how the gums or the bone will heal. gum grafting is a predictable procedure. It relies on removing the cause of the disease, post-operative care and the healing capacity of the body. It is very important to follow your routine hygiene appointment visits (usually every 3 months) so the graft area can be monitored and all buildup under the gums can be cleaned off to prevent further or recurrent pulling of gums from the teeth due to presence of bacteria.